Friday, July 7, 2017

Margaret Shaw

Margaret Shaw Athya (ca. 1917-18)
Margaret Shaw, daughter of Ewen Shaw and Catherine McGillivray, was born between 1884 and 1889 (see table below) in Dores, a village located in the Shire of Inverness, Scotland. According to Wikipedia, Inverness-shire is the largest county in Scotland. Margaret came from a large family of at least nine children—Anne Shaw, John Shaw, David J. Shaw, Catherine S. Shaw, Marjory F. (or Mary or May) Shaw, Bella F. Shaw, Margaret Shaw, Davidina Shaw, and Ewen James Shaw. Margaret was the wife of my husband’s grand uncle Robert Durie Athya. She and my husband have no common relative.

In 1891, Margaret and her family lived at Mackay’s House on Stephens Brae in Inverness. She was enumerated as a five-year-old scholar. They were still living at Mackay’s House four years later when Margaret’s father Ewen, a blacksmith, died there on January 11, 1895.

In 1901, Margaret, her mother, and seven of her siblings, ranging in age from 31 to 7, lived in Inverness at 9 Abbotsford Terrace on Greig Street. At 17 years of age, Margaret earned a living as a domestic servant. She was enumerated as Maggie vs. Margaret. The year 1901 would have been a sad but exciting time for Margaret. Queen Victoria died on January 22 and her son Edward became the King of the United Kingdom. Victoria, who had reigned since 1837, had been the Queen during Margaret’s entire lifetime so this would have been a huge historical event for a teenage subject of the United Kingdom. King Edward VII's coronation took place in 1902.

Back of Margaret Shaw Athya photo
Sometime between 1901 and 1917, Margaret’s mother passed away. I can’t find a death record for Catherine but when Margaret married Robert Durie Athya, son of James Athya and Jemima Durie, on November 23, 1917 in Rosskeen, Scotland, Catherine was recorded as “deceased.” The registry noted that Margaret was a domestic servant and spinster. At the time, World War I was raging and her groom was serving with Scotland’s Black Watch—a Sergeant with the Cameron Highlanders. The photo of Margaret above was taken ca. 1917–1918. She wrote the following on the back of the photo: “To my Darling Hubby with fondest love. How Do you like your little boy. Yours Loving. Maggie Athya.” In the bottom right corner, she wrote “Don’t smile.” It’s believed she was working in a factory at the time and was showing Robert her sense of humor.

Margaret and Robert had three children together. Their first child, a boy they named James Athya, was born about 1920. They welcomed daughter Margaret Shaw Athya on August 21, 1921. A third child, Robert Durie Athya Jr. joined the family on June 18, 1924. James, Margaret, and Robert were all born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. They were all given family names—son James was given his paternal grandfather’s name; daughter Margaret was given her mother’s first and maiden names; and son Robert given his father’s full name.

Newlyweds Margaret and Robert Athya
(ca. 1917-18)
When Margaret’s youngest child was just two years old, she was stricken with encephalitis lethargica (also known as “sleeping sickness”) and died on August 9, 1926 at Connolly Hospital in Motherwell, a town in Lanarkshire, Scotland. According to Wikipedia, “Between 1915 and 1926, an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica spread around the world. Nearly five million people were affected, a third of whom died in the acute stages. Many of those who survived never returned to their pre-existing ‘aliveness.’” Margaret and Robert lived in Bellshill at the time of her death. Her burial location is unknown to me, but I would assume she was buried somewhere in Bellshill or perhaps taken to Inverness-shire where she was born. The Dalziel Parish, County of Lanark death registry recorded Margaret’s age as 37 years.

Four years after Margaret’s death, Robert and their three children emigrated to America where they settled in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio. They joined Robert’s sister Margaret Athya Close and his brother George Durie Athya who had been living in America since 1920.

I noted earlier that Margaret was born between 1884 and 1889. Unfortunately, I can’t pinpoint her birthdate. The four records I find equate to different birth years. Each record provides Margaret’s age as well as a record date. When you do the math, things don’t add up. Here’s what I’ve found:

Hopefully a birth or burial record will eventually be found for Margaret that will help solve the mystery.

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